Living Your Amends
Continue to make amends by examining your life and what you have done to cause hurt to others, and then take responsibility for it. This step is to help you focus and give you encouragement. It is like exercising to keep fit; you have to keep at it.
Even though the way is simple in concept, people have tried to add extra burdens on the Gospel of Grace. From circumcision to the scores of false teachers, Paul and Barnabas were plagued with this until Peter, through the Holy Spirit, set them straight (Acts 10-15). It is no different today. We still need to be "set straight" because of so many false ideas, corruption, sin and evil people and their evil ways seeking to get you back to your addiction or dependency. Sometimes the temptations seem overwhelming and dauntless. Yet all you need to do is look to Christ and His simple, yet profound teachings to lead you home, safe, and in recovery.
The illustration in this passage of the trees and fruit is the quintessential proof text for who you are, where you came from, and what you have or can become. You have the choice to live out Galatians 5:19-21 or Galatians 5: 22-23. The choice is yours; the fruit is to be made by you through the Holy Spirit. The key is to receive and work it out (Phil. 2:12-13). You can be a good tree or a bad one. You can produce fruit to nourish and impact others, or give out your rotten fruit to discourage and repulse all those who are brought to you by God. Faith that is professed may be good, but until it moves your will and feet, it is no good to God or those around you!
The key to make this work is simple: Do not focus on your situation, but on Christ. "
Find it or found, suggests effort must be extended. Luke adds the word strive (Luke 13:24). It indicates not just any kind of effort, but the right driving force (Eph. 4).
False prophets: this can be anyone who enables you; they will switch the gates on you and claim lies as truth. They are denying who and what Christ has done for you and replacing the truth with lies! They seem attractive at first, until you realize you have been shamed--hopefully before it is too late. Even though you may have been misled, you are still responsible for your choices! We can know them by their character, by how they live (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:43-45), and if their words come to pass (Duet. 13; 18:21-22). They will lead you astray and must be corrected. If they refuse to listen (Matt. 18), they must be silenced.
Sheep's clothing: Here is where we get our phrase, "a wolf in sheep's clothing!" And the phrase is quite true! It is saying and representing what is not meant or intended; to deliberately misreport truth even though you may believe it as true. People of bad influence will rarely come across as the evil type, with shifty eyes and whispers in the dark. They come looking like you; with persuasive, emotional, and attractive words and temptations to captivate you. The only way you can tell is to know the truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them (Gal. 1:8-9; 1 John 4:1). In addition, know this: their lifestyle and character will soon give them away (2 Cor. 8:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:14-16; 3:13; 2 Pet. 2:1-3). They will also cause divisions and strife in you and your family and church, and lead people away from the true faith (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:18; 2 Pet. 2:1).
Fruits is an illustration of good and valuable food such as barley, figs, and pomegranates, versus what is worthless and harmful to the harvesters, such as thorns or thistles (Isa. 5:2-6; 27:6; Hos.10: 1-13; 14:7-8; Prov. 11:30-31). This, in the Old Testament, refers to being obedient to God in order to receive His blessings. Now, it is more of a mirror to our character, to who we are or can be in Christ (Gal. 5:18-23).
Another key to recovery success is to focus on the benefits of getting better and not the guilt for what you have done. Making amends is also designed to erase guilt so you can focus on your improvement and move on in Christ and the wondrous life He has for you! So enjoy your recovery; you are getting better! Wow! See it as an adventure from which to learn and grow. Our character will improve and enable us to overcome all obstacles and help others through them. Thus, we should make it a point to give Christ our best for His glory because He first loved us; we respond to His Grace with our gratitude. At the same time, we can take comfort in the fact that He will not give us anything we cannot handle (Phil 2:10-13; Heb. 2:10)! So let us live with excellence, to our best for His glory!
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